Today I want to share with you something that happened to Howdy while he was in Japan. I was re-reading his letter to me and thought that telling you in his own words would be best. He was attached to Marine Fighter Group (MAG13) at Iwakuni, Japan. So here is Howdy telling you what happened to him in November 1965.
“25 Nov 65 0100! Greetings my Sweet Love, I have a tale to tell. It’s a long tale. It’s very very early Thanksgiving Morning and I feel compelled to begin this tale. I’ve been celebrating . I’m a bit happy, if you know what I mean. This should indicate that my tale is a happy one — it is! As a matter of fact, it’s exhilerating.
I shall begin at the beginning. I remind you of the (that’s not the way I meant to begin, I’ll start again.) The F4B is the fastest, most sophisticated jet in the world today. The immensity of it’s capability is almost more than the layman can comprehend. As an infinitesimal example, it carries some 13,000 lbs. of fuel, it goes faster, farther, higher with more assurity than any aircraft in the world. I wanted to fly in one very badly. My reasons are even a little obscure to me, perhaps curiosity, challenge-who knows.
Out of the blue, three days ago, Capt. Baughman, Operations Officer, suggests that I should get a FAM (familiarization) hop before I go to MAG 13.
26 November 1965 1230 hrs.
Hello cold cruel world! I immerged from my cocoon at 1000. Raining, gray, cold miserable day. I feel great nonetheless. Had brunch at 1045. Back to my tale: We were in the club at the time. Capt Baughman arranged with Capt. Lewis to take me up on a test hop the next day. (Sunday) Needless to say I was getting pretty excited (and apprehensive) at the prospect. I’m sure you remember that the F4B carries a pilot and a radar operator. Sunday morning, John Shinnick, Capt. Lewis’ radar operator, took me in tow. He fitted me into his gear, which consists of flight suit; boots; G-suit, (automatically activated when attached by a nozzle affair to the aircraft. It inflates slightly and compensates for the G-forces against your body on dives, turns, etc. ); and a survival vest which contains, among other things, an inflatable life vest, knife, parachute straps which are attached to the ejection seat, and numerous other odds and ends, and last but not least, a helmet with oxygen mask. The whole rig weighs a ton when your not accustomed to it and makes you feel like an astronaut getting ready for the big ride. Quite a sensation, parading around in all that gear! After I’d gotten the gear on, Capt. Lewis came by and informed us the aircraft was not yet ready (they were repairing it, and we were going to test the repair job–la de da! ) We secured to our huts and I took a fitful nap. At 1700 hrs., John Shinnick came by and told me everything was set. Back to the Ready Room we cycled. I had surprisingly little trouble getting all that flight gear back on. I stuffed my little “barf” bag (an item necessary to “first timers”) for the purpose of receiving the results of involuntary regurgitation into one of the many little zippered pockets on my flight suit. I next took a snifter of “Privine” to assure myself of free breathing. We then began what seemed to me to be a long walk to the aircraft. I felt about as conspicuous as an overcoat in a nudist camp and as nimble as an elephant picking flowers with it’s toes! What a gigantic machine!”
All for tonight, I’ll finish this in the morning. You won’t want to miss the second installment of the Howdy saga of jet flight.